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Thread: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

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  1. #1
    shotokan101's Avatar

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    Question Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    My Wife's mother died earlier this year without leaving a Will and we were contacted by the Executors's Solicitor telling us that as no will could be found then she was entitled to 1/4 of the estate as she is one of four children (Husband Previously Deceased) - the letter said that they would shortly be in a position to disburse the funds - approx £23,000 after costs etc. to be split 4 ways.

    A subsequent letter told her that this was being delayed due to a Social Security review.

    Nothing more was heard for a few weeks and my wife contacted the solicitor for an update and was told that my wife's sister (the Executor) was now claiming that she had paid for a new kitchen recently in her mothers flat - which had been sold to provide the balance of the estate - and she was now making a claim on the estate for the cost of the kitchen.

    The Solicitor mentioned that she had been awaiting receipts/proof of purchase but wouldn't confirm if she had received them or not and told us to contact a solicitor.

    The solicitor also said that the Executor was saying that she would be reimbursing the kitchen cost from only my wife's share of the estate - which would virtually wipe it out.

    Can she do this ? - even if she can prove that she paid for the kitchen surely it was a gift to her mother unless there is a written agreement on a loan ?

    Even if there is surely the cost of the kitchen must be split 4 ways across all the beneficiaries and depending on how old the kitchen is the full initial cost must be discounted to some extent to account for it being "used" ?

    In the last call the Executors Solicitor said that we needed to do it soon - which I now suspect is because it has been just over 6 months since the death and I believe that is the minimum period before the Executor can distribute the estate ?

    If we end up needing to engage a Solicitor can someone say whether these costs could be possibly levied either against the estate in general or the Executor's portion or Personally if she is not following the Law and acting unfairly or acting with bias to her own gains from the estate?

    We subsequently drafted a letter which we sent Next Day Registered Delivery to both the Executor and the Solicitor she is using expressing our concerns and non-agreement to the apparently proposed distribution of the estate and requested a full statement of accounts.

    To date we have had no contact from either party and we have left numerous phone messages for the Solicitor asking them to contact us but have been apparently ignored - this was two weeks ago.


    I phoned the solicitor again today only to be told yet again that she was out of the office all day on appointments and they she would be in touch - I reminded the secretary that this was the same as we had been told now for over a week - I'm not really holding my breath that she will actually contact us.


    I suspect that we may need to get "more formal" with this in order to get any response from either party here.

    Can the Executor simply ignore this letter (and her solicitor) - I thought that both the Executor and the Solicitor had legal responsibilities to ensure a fair distribution of the estate.

    All advice an assistance with this matter would be appreciated.


    Thanks

    Jim

  2. #2
    shotokan101's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Anyone Please ?

    Thanks

    Jim

  3. #3
    Peridot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Hi Shotokan101,
    What a difficult situation. You mention the executor. Is it the case that there was a will leaving everything to your wife's father but as he has died there is no Will? Technically if there is no Will then an administrator is appointed to deal with the estate. It may be a case of muddling terms, I just wanted to check there was not a Will that then left everything to the children equally.
    If there is no Will then the estate passes following the intestacy rules so in this situation divided between all the children (or their share between their own children (the grandchildren) if any have pre-deceased).

    Was a new kitchen needed to sell the property which formed part of the estate? It may be that a more favourable price could be obtained if the kitchen was re-done but not always the case.

    Why does your wife's sister believe that the cost of the new kitchen should come from your wife's share? When was the kitchen replaced? If during your mother in law's life then you would expect an agreement to have been made between her and her daughter confirming she was due the money back, in effect a soft loan, which would need to be proved.

    In the usual course of things any maintenance/repairs etc to a property after someone has passed away, could be justified and funded from the estate if needed, but it wouldn't be the case that the money would then be deducted from an individuals share of the residue. It would reduce everyone's share. I wonder whether this is where the confusion may have arisen? You need clarification on this and also confirmation whether the payment for the kitchen was a soft loan or not.

    The 6 month time limit you mentioned is probably for bringing a claim against the estate. The 6 months starts running from the date of the Grant being made whether a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or the Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will).

    I would suggest that you obtain some face to face advice on this, from a probate specialist and as soon as possible just to establish what your options are.

    If Court proceedings were necessary there is no guarantee where the costs would be ordered to be paid from, if you were successful. It could be the estate or the executor/administrator if they have not acted appropriately.

    Have a look around for a firm that provides a free half hour or reduced fee first appointment. Write down the bare facts as you understand them before you go. I appreciate it is difficult to keep the emotion out of these situations but you also need to make the most of your short time with the specialist to enable them to offer their guidance on the options available. You can then decide what is the best course of action.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

  4. #4
    shotokan101's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Hi thanks for the quick reply - much appreciated - I'll read through the rest now but to answer the first question - no will and my Wife's mother's husband had died prior to her death so 4 siblings involved and Eldest Sister was (somehow) nominated/selected to be Executor.

    If there are other points needing clarified in your full response I will update the thread with the required info.

    Jim

  5. #5
    shotokan101's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Hi again - we have very little information about the Kitchen details other than it wasn't fitted to help sell the property it was definitely fitted while the Mother was alive and in residence - we didn't even know it was being sold as we had not been informed that she had even bought it in the first place.

    We were not even informed that Probate had been sought or granted - the Mother passed away in care on 12/3/2017 and nobody contacted my Wife until the first letter she received from the Executor's Solicitor on 17/8/17 telling us about the Executry and that the Estate was being wound up and my Wife's entitlement to a 1/4 share of the likely balance of £23,000 so £5000+

    We had received a letter some weeks earlier (unsigned and undated) purporting to be from the younger Sister but "from" all three of the other siblings/beneficiaries. - this letter stated that there had been a will made with a local solicitor but nothing could be found and the solicitor had no record/copy.

    The letter went on to say that the original will had specifically excluded my Wife as a benficiary due to the ongoing Family problems which had kept contact at a minimum for several years and urging her to forego her claim as it was "what Mummy had wanted".

    We obviously decided to ignore this letter as for several years before the falling out my wife and I had provided both Financial support and regular food gifts (filling her freezer regularly for example).to the Mother and of course my Wife was still legally entitled to make a claim even if a prior will had been available that attempted to exclude her.

    Is her Sister/Executor's Solicitor legally allowed to simply ignore our attempts to speak to her or to get confirmation that she has advised her client properly in line with Probate/Intestacy Law regarding this Inheritance and charges against the Estate etc. ?

    As mentioned we write asking for a full set of estate accou8nts but have received nothing not even an acknowledgement of the letter.

  6. #6
    Peridot's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Hi Shotokan101,

    The bare facts are there is either a Will which the executor is bound to follow or there isn't in which case the Intestacy Rules are followed. The fact that your mother in law may have indicated otherwise is irrelevant. If there is no Will in existence then Intestacy Rules apply.

    From the sounds of it the cost of the kitchen shouldn't be deducted from the estate unless there is evidence this was a loan.

    I suspect you have no option but to obtain some face to face advice on the information you have. Don't wait to hear from your sister's solicitor, although it would be helpful to receive the accounts you are on a timescale her that should be complied with. The Courts have the power to waive the limitation date but only if the Claimant has good reason for the late application.

    Unfortunately although the solicitor has a duty to the beneficiaries in addition to the executor I suspect they may feel there is a potential conflict here so it would make it difficult to communicate with you. Have you ever received a client care letter from the firm? If so then you are entitled to make a complaint and I would ask for their complaints policy. However, they have indicated to you that there may be a potential claim so you need to explore this.

    Find a local free half hour or reduced fee appointment and talk through the options available to you as soon as possible.
    I am a qualified solicitor employed by the LegalBeagles forum to provide guidance on a wide range of legal queries. I am happy to try and assist informally, where needed.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any practical advice I give is without liability. I do not represent people on the forum.

    If in doubt you should always seek professional face to face legal advice.

  7. #7
    shotokan101's Avatar

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    Default Re: Probate/Executry Issues - Advice Appreciated

    Thanks again @Peridot - I am already contacting a local solicitor to arrange an appointment - will update thread as/when I get more information or "resolution"

    Jim

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